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Lester Bangs on hipsters using racism to prove they are edgy

Rosenberg has it all at the link. Bangs is called the greatest music writer of all time, which is arguable given how wildly his output could vary from sublime to messy-pile-of-horseshit wankery, but it cannot be denied that when he was on his game he was one of the greatest. The linked essay is him at the top of his game, exploring his own casually racist past and What It Means. Lester Bangs' Epic Take on Hipster Racism Shows Us How Little Things Have Changed | ThinkProgress
You don’t have to try at all to be a racist. It’s a little coiled clot of venom lurking there in all of us, white and black, goy and Jew, ready to strike out when we feel embattled, belittled, brutalized. Which is why it has to be monitored, made taboo and restrained, by society and the individual…. I figured all this was in the Lenny Bruce spirit of let’s-defuse-them-epithets-byslinging-’em-out in Detroit I thought absolutely nothing of going to parties with people like David Ruffin and Bobby Womack where I’d get drunk, maul the women, and improvise blues songs along the lines of “Sho’ wish ah wuz a nigger / Then mah dick’d be bigger,” and of course they all laughed. It took years before I realized what an asshole I’d been, not to mention how lucky I was to get out of there with my white hide intact. I’m sure a lot of those guys were very happy to see this white kid drunk on his ass making a complete fool if not a human TV set out of himself, but to this day I wonder how many of them hated my guts right then. Because Lenny Bruce was wrong—maybe in a better world than this such parlor games would amount to cleansing jet offtakes, and between friends, where a certain bond of mutual trust has been firmly established, good natured racial tradeoffs can be part of the vocabulary of understood affections. But beyond that trouble begins—when you fail to realize that no matter how harmless your intentions are, there is no reason to think that any shit that comes out of your mouth is going to be understood or happily received. Took me a long time to find it out, but those words are lethal, man, and you shouldn’t just go slinging them around for effect. This seems almost too simple and obvious to say, but maybe it’s good to have some-thing simple and obvious stated once in a while, especially in this citadel of journalistic overthink. If you’re black or Jewish or Latin or gay those little vernacular epithets are bullets that riddle your guts and then fester and burn there, like torture- flak hailing on you wherever you go. Ivan Julian told me that whenever he hears the word “nigger,” no matter who says it, black or white, he wants to kill. Once when I was drunk I told Hell that the only reason hippies ever existed in the first place was because of niggers, and when I mentioned it to Ivan while doing this article I said, “You probably don’t even remember-” “Oh yeah, I remember,” he cut me off… . . .

April 24, 2012

Why internet memes are poisonous to comedy

Kris Straub really nails it. chainsawsuit by kris straub - my thoughts on memes, distilled
let me clarify a thought on memes — memes are not immediately poison. to suggest this is to say “no emoticons either, and no lowercase letters, and only correct punctuation.” ridiculous. we can’t do that.we need memes. we need these ideas to exist. we need methods of self-expression for people of every creative stripe. my assertion is that after the first 5 or 10 iterations of a meme, the meme has to become meta to survive. then the meme is just an inside joke. inside jokes depreciate rapidly. the return on investment is pretty goddamn low. unfortunately this is where the meme really takes root and shines. someone on twitter said that they had considered memes “the democratization of humor,” which i think is fascinating. because there’s an effort to make you think that by proliferating someone else’s joke, you yourself become as funny or clever as its originator. there is money to be made from this. empires are built on that idea! but it doesn’t hold water. the word BACON or the word SCIENCE is not humor, it does not indicate the presence of humor; but it’s been positioned as a punchline for so long, we react to it as if it’s a fully-formed joke. put it this way: we used to all own headphones of various qualities. then apple bundled those trashy white earbuds with all music players, and audiophiles everywhere said “man, they are really horrible for music — they have terrible bass response and kids are growing up thinking that all music is supposed to be tinny and shrill.” i’m not an audiophile, but i’ll take those guys’ word for it. memes are those white earbuds, but for comedy.